Will Ferrell Takes The Flop

Sep 13, 2015

Will Ferrell
Credit Wikipedia

Score it Error: Ferrell. Or #FarrellFail.

Comedian Will Ferrell’s HBO special Saturday about playing all nine positions for Major League Baseball teams last March was a colossal disappointment.

“Ferrell Takes The Field, available on HBO the rest the month, features the “Anchorman” and former “Saturday Night Live” star playing for 10 teams – including the Reds – in a marathon March day in Arizona.

Unfortunately, Ferrell fixated on the misguided concept of staying in character – as a 47-year-old man who believed he had the talent to play in the big leagues. To me, the hour was filled with far too much phony  bluster and braggadocio, and artificial angst about being traded or released, as he bounced from club to club.

What I wanted to see and hear was how hard it is for an ordinary guy to play the field or hit big league pitching -- from Farrell, players, coaches, managers and/or broadcasters.

“Ferrell” had some funny moments – but not nearly enough. While at shortstop for the Oakland As, he pulled his wallet from his pants asked players where they kept theirs. (In the clubhouse.)

Sitting in the Reds dugout, he wore beards made of nachos and sunflower seeds. When he asked some Reds if they wanted some sunflower seeds, Chad Wallach plucked some off his face.

But stunts like this knocked Farrell’s one-day venture more than two hours off schedule, so he arrived in the ninth inning for his final two games. He caught for the Giants for only one batter (an intentional walk), and pitched for the Dodgers to only one batter (a bunt), so the actor-comedian wouldn’t get hurt.

From watching “Ferrell Takes The Field,” it appeared that fielder Ferrell saw the most action against the Reds as the Diamonbacks’ leftfielder. The film showed Ferrell fielding two balls – although he actually chased down three -- a triple and two doubles -- in the Reds 12-4 win.

In fact, the Reds' two hits to left were the only plays in the field made by Ferrell seen in the film. If he made any put-outs playing first base for the Cubs, they didn’t make the HBO special. For the record, he also played second (Mariners), third (Reds) and right (Padres), and coached third (Cubs).

Ferrell batted once (for the White Sox) and struck out, swinging embarrassingly late. He only made contact once, a foul squibber toward first.

“Ferrell” would have been more entertaining if he talked about how difficult it was to play the game at this level. How hard was it to judge the Reds’ rockets hit to left? To squat and catch a big league pitcher? After all, isn’t this every baseball fan’s dream?

And how did he do? “Ferrell” needed a second crew to interview players, coaches and managers after some of the games about the baseball talent of Ferrell, who also was executive producer of the show.

The good news is that “Ferrell Takes The Field” raised $ 1 million for Cancer for College, founded in 1993 by cancer survivor Craig Pollard, Ferrell’s University of Southern California fraternity brother.

The bad news is that the HBO special could have been much, much better.

On my scorecard, it’s an E-Ferrell, a #Ferrellfail.

“Ferrell Takes The Field” is available on HBO NOW and HBO GO. It repeats at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on HBO2; 11 p.m. Wednesday on HBO; midnight Friday on HBO; 3 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. Saturday on HBO2; 9:35 p.m. Sept. 21 on HBO; 11:45 p.m. Sept. 24 on HBO; 10 p.m. Sept. 29 on HBO; and 5:05 p.m. Sept. 30 on HBO2.